On not being “political”

A quick recap: In the now-five weekends since school started, I have had two (2) weekends where students in my building lost younger siblings to gun violence– one who was playing with (or at least near someone who was playing with) a loaded weapon that went off, and another killed in a drive-by shooting at a birthday party. Last weekend, one of my former students apparently fired a shot or two at someone she had gotten into an altercation with at a bar, and then her gun went off while she was in the back seat of what was effectively their getaway car, going through the front passenger seat and killing her best friend, another former student.

Today’s horror involves a killing this afternoon at my local mall. I came across this Facebook post just now; one of those where you don’t know the person but someone you know interacted with them and so the post makes its way onto your feed. I would like you to direct your attention to the first two sentences, in particular:

Now, I don’t know this dude, which is why I didn’t respond to him on FB, and is why I’m cutting his name out here. He’s going through some shit I’ve never had to go through right now and I feel for him.

But God damn it, this impulse toward oh don’t make this political, when the problem is, oh, gun violence is completely the fuck out of control, is part of the god damned problem. This comes from the same impulse that occasionally leads to ignant shit like this:

And … nah.

You cannot “make” gun violence political. Gun violence is inherently fucking political. You cannot take politics out of gun violence. When we have a political party in this country that is literally encouraging its followers to stockpile as many guns as they can and the fucking person masquerading as our nation’s President is actively calling for gun violence in response to the results of our upcoming election, you can not take politics out of gun violence.

America has decided that it does not matter how many people die; their guns are more important than the lives of children, the lives of their friends, the lives of their families, whatever. That is a political decision. These folks literally don’t care who dies so long as they get to keep their toys and people with darker skin than them don’t. And the “be like Bob and Sally” bullshittery exists to obscure that, to hide the fact that for a whole god damn lot of people politics is literally a life and death matter and it is not only perfectly fucking okay but frankly the only sane decision to cut people out of their lives who have made the political decision that you are not human and your life does not matter. My white skin and manly cishet genitals are going to protect me from this to a certain extent but sooner or later these fuckers are going to get around to the atheists. This is not fucking theoretical to me. Not at all.

We are at the point where one of our two major political parties is actively courting fascists and white supremacists. Where actual fucking Nazis not only support the party holding the White House but hold positions of power within that party and are not actively shunned by those individuals who don’t yet identify specifically with them.

When you have one Nazi sitting at a table with eleven people who don’t mind that the Nazi is there, you don’t have one Nazi and eleven “adults” who don’t want to rock the boat. You’ve got twelve Nazis sitting at a table.

America is the world’s largest source of gun violence because America has made the political decision to be the world’s largest source of gun violence and Americans who disagree have not managed to summon the political will to stop them. If you are trying to skate around that to avoid fights and losing friends, you are part of the problem.

#REVIEW: The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment, by Thom Hartmann

Thom Hartmann’s The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment is the second of two books that I was sort of randomly offered ARCs of in the last couple of months. They asked me to have it read and the review ready today, and I’m happy to announce that unlike the last time I’m actually managing to successfully fulfill that request.

To put it mildly, the gun issue is one place where I am pretty consistently far to the left of anyone I ever talk to about it. I want guns banned, period. I want the Second Amendment repealed. When you hear “moderate, reasonable” gun control advocates say things like no one is coming for your guns to the gun nuts? That’s not true, because I’m totally coming for your guns. I’m sick to death of people thinking the Constitution enshrines a right to murder other people, guns don’t ever make anyone or anything safer, and there is no such thing as a “good guy with a gun.” There is only a dangerous idiot who hasn’t killed anyone or shot his own dick off yet.

So now that I’ve pissed everyone off, this is actually a pretty interesting little book. I used to listen to Hartmann’s radio show back when I was commuting to the South Side and back every day in Chicago, so I’m familiar with how he works– and the fact that he kept me listening to a liberal talk show when I have learned over the years that listening to talk radio from people who mostly agree with me is actually not something that will keep me awake during a drive is a good sign for him. Despite the pull quote on the cover, this is actually a history book and not a polemic about gun control, although it does have a few chapters at the end about what people call “sensible” gun control measures, like registering them similarly to the way we register cars, insisting that gun owners carry insurance, and regulating semiautomatic weapons the same way we regulate automatic weapons.

(Wanna fight about technicalities over what a “semiautomatic weapon” is? No problem; I’ll start pushing to ban anything that uses a controlled explosion to fire a projectile faster than a human being can throw it.)

At any rate, Hartmann traces America’s gun culture back to– surprise!– slavery and Native American displacement and genocide, and discusses the history of (and some interesting looks at early drafts of) the Second Amendment in particular, and probably spends 80% of the book’s text discussing why America is different about guns than damn near the entire rest of the world and how our history affects the gun fetishism that infects our culture today.

(Deletes a rant)

This is at all times a clear and readable book; if anything, my sole major criticism of it is that it could be a bit more in-depth. The book itself is less than 200 pages long and most of the chapters are less than five pages, and while there are several pages of endnotes at the end most of them are to websites, meaning that the index and the sources are mostly going to be useless a few years down the road. I went back and forth on whether this was a fair criticism; after all, it’s not like Hartmann wrote a short book accidentally, and the fact that there’s a companion volume of similar length coming in October called The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America indicates that he’s thinking of this as a series and not a one-off. There is certainly a place for cursory looks at American history, but given how … well, revisionist is the wrong word, but certainly nontraditional this look at history is, I wanted a bit more meat on the book’s bones than I got. For example, he devotes a single intriguing sentence to saying that Texas’ declaration of independence from Mexico was over Mexico outlawing slavery. That’s interesting! I want to know more about it, and I hadn’t heard that before! But it’s literally a single throwaway sentence.

(Note that I am far from an expert on Texan history.)

At any rate: The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment is available now at all the places you might buy books. Those of you with an interest in modern politics and American history should check it out; anytime my only criticism of a book is I want more, that’s probably a sign of something that I can honestly recommend. Check it out.

A few observations relating to my son’s completion of kindergarten

shutterstock_103426844(That’s not a picture of my kid.)

My son’s last day of school was today, or at least his last couple of hours of school were today, and I’ve entered that liminal couple of months where I’m no longer the parent of a kindergartner but not quite the parent of a first grader yet.  They had a little program to mark the end of the year; it started at 8:30, each class sang a song or two, and they were done by probably 9:15, at which point everyone was dismissed to go home.  My kid’s school, thankfully, does not put up with any sort of “graduation” nonsense for kindergarten children.  No one’s names were called, no certificates were handed out, and there was no walking across stages.  No caps and gowns, either.  Classes come up, classes sing songs, classes go away, and I continue to be amazed at the outstanding lack of classroom presence possessed by the music director, who “runs” each of those things and who cannot quiet down a room of humans to save her bloody life.

I still don’t feel like I fit in at this place.  Granted, today is my day off and most of the folks there probably went to work after the presentation, but I was literally the only parent in the room in a t-shirt and jeans.  And large groups of white people tend to make me nervous, especially large groups of white people who visibly make more money than me.  I spent half the concert on edge, waiting for someone to insist on speaking to my manager.  That type of crowd.

One definite plus: as a first grader, my son moves to a different division of the school next year.  This means that today was probably the last time I have to listen to three- and four-year-olds trying to sing and play instruments and try to keep a straight face.  I mean, I guess in theory I might live long enough to have grandchildren?  But he’s six, so… the last time for at least a couple of decades, I hope?  Sure.

I caught myself musing about escape routes as the program dragged on, and realized with a jolt that I was genuinely sitting there and thinking about what the best thing to do would be if someone with a gun came in– if it’s from that door, I grab the boy and try to get out of this door, but if it’s from this door, the one next to me, I’m probably fucked and the best thing is probably to do my best impression of a guided missile and see just how hard my 300-pound ass can hit someone with a running start from a chair fifteen feet away.  I was probably thirty seconds into it before I realized what I was doing, and then my head was fucked up for the rest of the morning.  This is a wealthy, mostly white school, see; it’s those schools that tend to produce the school shooters.  Not once while I was working in urban public schools did I ever catch myself doing this sort of calculus.

One of the more recent school shootings caught me where I live.  The Noblesville shooting didn’t raise a ton of press outside of Indiana because no one was killed, but I know kids who go to that school.  I spent a weekend at the booth next to them at Starbase Indy a couple of years ago, and their mom and I are still connected on Instagram and Facebook.  Mom posted yesterday that her youngest had only just then decided she felt safe to go back to school.

I shouldn’t have to think about this shit.  But Americans have to have their fucking toys, don’t they?  Because freedom, or something.

Bah.  I’m taking the boy to Dairy Queen and trying to get out of this fucking mood.

On “assassination porn” and stupid, stupid people

e45So, you’d think if somebody wrote an article called “It’s Time for Democrats to Take Responsibility For Their Assassination Porn,” there would be a real good chance that that article would be about 1) assassination porn, whatever the fuck that is and 2) Democrats.  That would be a reasonable assumption!  Even, perhaps, a common one!

Unfortunately it’s 2017 and everything is stupid as fuck and it’s been a long time since I’ve ripped a politics article to shreds so let’s do this shit.

Wednesday, our public servants were violently attacked. Except, this time it wasn’t a man or woman with brown skin who swears allegiance to Allah. Nor was it a man or woman who worships in the “deep state” of Pepe the Frog and Alex Jones conspiracies while swearing allegiance to right-wing conservatism.

Okay, first of all, this intro would be half-assed coming from a high school student.  The phrase “swears allegiance” is used twice in two sentences and you don’t worship “in” a “deep state,” much less a conspiracy.  It sounds like it makes sense until you actually pay attention to it.  Maybe the next couple of sentences will be better.

Instead, the perpetrator shares the same political ideals as 50 percent of the country.

Which fifty percent?  Because that “right wing conservatism” thing is close enough to half of us to not be worth grousing about, and if you think “the left” is half of the country…

Yesterday a liberal supporter who volunteered for the Bernie Sanders campaign attacked a political servant, capital police officers, and Hill staffers.

Again, grammar:  attacked political servant?  Just one?  And what part of “liberal” and “volunteered for Bernie Sanders” says 50 percent of the country to you?  Fuck Bernie Sanders.

But I’m quibbling.  Let’s get to the meat of the article:

a madman released several gunshots at the representatives

Okay I can’t actually let that pass.  Released?  He released several gunshots?  You release doves.

As the events unfolded, Sen. Rand Paul commented that if it weren’t for the capital police, everyone would have been dead on the field.

Yeah, let’s talk about some things Rand Paul has said real quick.  There’s this, for example:

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 7.43.50 PM

Now, Paul’s apparently quoting this “judge nap” individual here.  Do I care?  Not a fucking bit; he’s RTed this guy’s words without condemnation or equivocation and so he gets to fucking own them.  Remember, it’s the Democrats who need to “take responsibility for their assassination porn,” but this fucker literally calling for people to shoot at the government (and then crying when they do!) gets a pass.

For years, the Left has focused on the racism and demagoguery on the Right that they believe led to the election of Donald Trump.

This is absolutely true.

Certainly, Trump’s comments about how “Second Amendment people” could do something about Hillary Clinton, or that he could assassinate someone on the street and still get elected, didn’t help negate such stereotypes. Neither did depictions from radical conservatives of Barack Obama being burnt, lynched, or hung from a noose ease tensions between the Right and Left.

These things all happened!  Now, this person talking about “Second Amendment people” was running for President while he said that, and he’s supposedly the President now.  And those “radical conservatives” include close associates of that so-called President, including his own employees, as well as violent scumbags like Ted Nugent who he has invited to the White House.  Meanwhile, there’s that asshole who physically assaulted a reporter– he’s in Congress now, too!

So, I’m sure the Democrats who are guilty of “assassination porn” will be of similar influence as the President of the United States, right?

When former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin released a “crosshairs” target map of 20 congressional districts under faces of Democratic lawmakers with the text “Don’t Retreat, Instead – Reload,” liberals immediately chastised the violent, disgusting act “critics saw as a winking approval of violence,” wrote Max Fisher of The Atlantic.

“Former governor of Alaska.”

Former governor of Alaska.

Former governor of Alaska.

Man, I coulda sworn Sarah Palin did something other than be governor of Alaska for half a term.  OH WAIT RIGHT SHE WAS A VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE.  So so far we have the actual fucking President and the VP nominee from the previous political cycle who are guilty of violent, eliminationist rhetoric.  So, man, we must really be up for something once they get around to those Democrats who need to take responsibility for their assassination porn.  Sarah Palin putting literal crosshairs on people’s faces wasn’t quite enough to qualify, apparently; whatever it is the Democrats have done is probably way worse.

Also, just last week the shitgibbon’s son literally said on TV that he didn’t think Democrats were people.  But whatever.  Both sides!

Liberals’ anger at Palin was justified, considering that soon after Gabrielle Gifford, a Democrat, was shot in the head and 13 others were wounded, including six killed.

Yeah, let’s not forget that that happened.  Democrats reacted exactly the same way they’re reacting to the most current attack– calling for some sort of sane fucking gun policy in this country, because we want people to stop getting shot.  Guess what: that’s going to be our reaction to every single shooting, no matter who does it or who they’re shooting at!  Maybe there should be fewer guns, and it should be harder to get them!  This might happen less often if that were true!

Republicans blew it off, since they only care when it’s them getting shot at.  Two dozen fucking children were murdered and they called the entire thing a conspiracy and mocked us for caring.  I’m supposed to cry when it’s one Republican congressperson who survives the assault?

Of course, Palin isn’t responsible for that tragedy, but I agree with Andrew Sullivan that her “inflammatory rhetoric has poisoned the discourse and has long run the risk of empowering the deranged.” Like our actions, words have consequences.

You didn’t have a stroke; the first half and back half of this quote do, in fact, directly contradict each other.

If “inflammatory rhetoric” poisons the well of civility, then certainly liberals bear some responsibility for Wednesday’s hideous assault against Republicans.

MY BODY IS READY.  Hit me with some of that Democratic assassination porn!

Since last November, liberals (including myself) have engaged in rhetoric and disdain against Trump and conservatives for myriad reasons. But some of the arguments and intense conversations, especially on social media, have been utterly gruesome. This rhetoric I’ve personally refused to partake in, like pondering the assassination of the president.

I am super fucking psyched for the long list of examples of Democratic elected officials who have pondered the assassination of the President and/or called for violence against the same.  I’m ready.  Let’s go.  Example time, assholes!

Recently, comedian Kathy Griffin

Wait what

Political commentator and activist Reza Aslan

Hold the fuck on

To this day, liberals refuse to accept that Trump won the presidency, despite the interference of the Russians.

Oh you did not just bring up Kathy fucking Griffin and Reza Aslan— Aslan’s sin, by the way, is calling the President a “piece of shit,” not, like, any violent rhetoric of any fucking kind at all– and then change the fucking subject like you were done talking.  Is this seriously where we’re going, here?  We’re juxtaposing literal violent threats and violent fantasies from the highest echelons of the Republican party with a third-rate comedienne doing a routine no one understood or gave much of a shit about and a religious studies professor with a potty mouth?  Are you fucking kidding me?

How the fuck do you type something this stupid and not just hurt all over while you’re doing it?  I would expect my brain to slowly shut down autonomous processes until I died if I persisted in something this fucking dumb.

We’ve engaged in mindless conversations about how Clinton won the popular vote, Trump is a moron, and Republicans are heartless.

Oh, go fuck yourself.  I’ve not been talking about it much around here, but it’s becoming increasingly fucking clear as time goes on that that was the least legitimate election in American history.  This isn’t that post, but these are far from fucking “mindless conversations,” and I’m sick to fuck of people acting like vote suppression and Russian interference in our electoral processes are just things that happen that no one should worry about.  I repeat: go fuck yourself.

None of these arguments over semantics resolve real peoples’ problems, such as economic disparity, affordable health care, lack of job opportunities in urban and rural areas, climate change, and an out-of-control prison system.

You know what else isn’t going to resolve those real people’s problems?  The Republican party.  They don’t give a single fucking wet shit about people.  Look at this abomination of a health care bill– oh, wait, you can’t.  They screamed for years about how Obamacare, which was debated for a year and a half, was “rammed through,” and literally no one outside of the Republican half of the Senate has seen the fucking bill.

So, right.  Still waiting for that assassination porn.  There’s gotta be one elected Democrat in here somewhere.  Just one.

Sanders isn’t responsible.

Well, then.

He’s been responsibly engaging in conversations on practical progressive ideas,

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Have I said “fuck Bernie Sanders” yet?  No?  Fuck Bernie Sanders.  He’s not a Democrat and neither are his followers– in fact, they’re fucking proud of it.  And gaslight as much as you like but there is a part of his base that crosses over quite neatly with Trump’s base, and that crossover element is pure fucking misogyny.  Every white dude who thought he was a lefty but hated women anyway voted for Sanders.  Every single one.  And Sanders’ reaction to this rot in his midst has been to repeatedly deny that these people exist and try to gaslight those of us who have had to put up with them into believing we’re making that up.  Yeah, I said it:  that fucker who shot at those Congressmen was a Bernie Bro, and fuck him.

NOTE: this is another difference between us and them, by the way– any Clinton supporter/mainline Democrat who gets it into his or her head (who the fuck am I kidding; it’ll be “his”) to go shoot up anyone at all under any circumstances can also be similarly fucked.  The Republicans defended the shit out of motherfuckers for pointing guns at federal agents when those motherfuckers were white conservatives.  Does the word Malheur ring a bell to any of you?  Do you remember these assholes?

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I’m sure there’s a Democrat doing some assassination porn here somewhere…
But yeah, back to Bernie for a sec, and in the interest of precision: I don’t hold him responsible for the misogyny of so many of his supporters.  I hold him responsible for not openly condemning them until they were run the fuck out of his “revolution.”  Which he never came close to doing.

But anyway.  Bernie’s not a Democrat, and it’s the Democrats who are doing the assassination porns.  I’m sure the last couple of paragraphs are going to get to the porny part.  Surely.

Despite past rhetoric, Trump isn’t responsible for this recent attack either. In fact, he gets the severity of this tragedy: “Many lives would’ve been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman, despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault,” said Trump in a statement from the Diplomatic Room at the White House. In my opinion this shows Trump is growing to understand his responsibility as president and commander in chief.

Wow.

We liberals have been too busy arguing with and hating on “the others.” We’ve done what we accused the Right of doing. And what has that gotten us?

Liberals, it’s time to have a serious talk about the dangers on the Left to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again.

Go fuck yourself, The Federalist.

Hope, perhaps

cx1nxzk0ikbzns79dnql.gifThe one problem I’ve encountered so far in setup for IndyPopCon, and it’s a minor one, is that the Special Vendor-Only Discount Rated Lot that I decided to put my car in (because cheap) is cheap because it’s literally two damn miles from the convention center, with an entire football stadium in between.  Luckily, there is a free shuttle.  Less luckily, the shuttle doesn’t appear to be super fast and has a driver who believes he can get anywhere in two minutes.  It won’t be a problem until it’s time to break the booth down on Sunday, when it will ensure that lots and lots of people get into the loading dock before I do and slow me way the hell down.

But my booth is awesome, both in location and the amount of space allotted, so I’ve got precious little to complain about right now.  We’ll see how the next few days go.

One thing, though, is worth passing on: as I was waiting for the shuttle, I was sitting with the lot attendant, an off-duty Chicago (!!!) police officer who was chatty enough to fill fifteen minutes of conversation mostly by himself.  He terrified me at one point by, out of nowhere, bringing up the Orlando massacre.  Despite my demeanor online, I very much dislike talking about politics in person, even with people I agree with, and when a cop starts a conversation about guns I am hardwired to begin immediately trying to find some way to flee as fast and as far as I can to avoid having the conversation.  I really don’t want to be confrontational with people, I promise, and I’m not always great at conversing with strangers anyway.  A fraught issue like guns?  Run.

BUT!  Amazingly, the guy– having a conversation basically with himself, because my role was mostly to listen and grunt approvingly from time to time– managed to begin by presenting himself as a staunch “2nd Amendment guy” and then immediately walked himself down a rabbit hole where by the end of his spiel he was admitting that most gun owners in America didn’t have any business owning their guns (“or at least as many guns as they have”) and that after Orlando he was starting to seriously think that confiscation might be the right thing to do.

cop said this.  A white cop.

How it didn’t happen after Sandy Hook, I don’t know.  A nation that changes nothing after children are gunned down in cold blood does not seem like a nation that suddenly sees the light after adults are killed, particularly adults in a gay bar.  But I feel like something is different this time.  Yes, anecdata, I know, but we may finally be getting closer to the beginning of a movement toward a sane gun policy in this country.

Maybe.